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From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days)

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From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 09 Jan 2012, 10:41
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I had my G-Day last week (4th Jan-2012) and I scored 720 (Q 50, V 38).
I’m sure there are lots of guys who are frustrated to see their scores being stagnant even after lot of hard work, just as it happened to me. I tried for 3 month with hard labor but couldn’t score more than 650in MGMAT and 600 in GMAT prep. My post is for those guys who feel burnt out after indulging in hard labor and still do not see any difference.

Background: I’m a non native speaker with 4 years of work experience. I planned to take GMAT twice in case I don’t manage a decent score(but now thankfully I don’t need to do that).
Books that I have used:
SC: Manhattan GMAT SC. OG-12, Verbal 2nd ED, list of GMAT prep problems.
CR: CR bible (I prefer this to MGMAT CR), MGMAT CR, OG-12, Verbal 2nd ED
RC: None in particular. Solved around 10 Aristotle RC passages ( But they don’t reflect GMAT standard and were waste of time for me). I didn’t solve RC problems from OG either.
Quant: Nothing in particular. Solved OG-12 and 700-800 level prep problems randomly collected from the GMAT Club forum and MGMAT forum. Here is a note for quant: OGs don’t reflect the standards of real GMAT quant. So don’t get hung up on that. GMAT quant questions are way tougher and trickier than OG problem. The GMAT prep software is the only standard comparable with real GMAT. I had Jeff Sackman, but didn’t use it.
My three golden rules: (I realized late, but at least before the G-Day):
1) If one particular strategy has worked for general people/someone that does not mean it will work for you. Work on your own strategy from preparation to execution. Don’t waste your time by revolving around one strategy if that doesn’t not produce result.( Keep reading my post to know how a particular change in strategy increased my score by 80 points).
2) If you are doing things the same way over and over and expecting different results then you need to rethink your entire plan.
3) There is no match for GMAT prep questions. So before jumping around from forums to forums finish those problems (Of course after the completing OG). Understand each problem and find the pattern. No exception to this rule. (There are collections of GMAT prep problems in this forum, find them). Time yourself, solve those and find authentic explanations.

My GMAT was on 4th January 2012. I started preparing from mid August. I work fulltime and my work timings are around 9 to 10 hours, five days a week. I tried to spend on an average of 2 hours a day. But with work and other things going around, the average time I used to spend 10 to 15 hours a week (excluding the tests). I maintained Error log( just the question numbers, not details of errors) for OG-12 problems only.
First I finished the Manhattan SC and solved the Verbal 2nd Ed SC (hit rate 67%). Then I read the MGMAT CR and solved 2nd Ed CRs. I tried to understand the logic and pattern. But I did everything untimed (a big mistake). In the mean time I solved Quant 2nd ED.
Then I started OG-12 and also my CAT tests. My CAT test scores were stagnant even after putting in all possible kind of strategy that I found in forums and hard labor(see my score lists). I thought I had timing issue; so I tried to take 14 SC, 14,CRs and 13 RC question randomly, and solve those in 75 minutes, spend most of the time on SCs, and go through randomly all kind of possible material I can get from internet( this was a waste of time). But there was no change in score. I was so utterly frustrated and the final blow was on 12th December when I took my first GMAT prep test. I scored only 600!(before that I was scoring 650-660 in MGMAT CATs even with little preparation).
My scores till 12th of December( after 2and half months of serious work):MGMAT CATS:
4-Sep-11 660 (Q 47, V33)
24-Sep-11 650 (Q47, V32)
25-Sep-11 650(Q43, V36)
30-Oct-11 660(Q46, V34)
10-Dec-11 650(Q46, V33)
1st GMAT Prep 11-Dec-11 600 (Q 47, V25) !!!
I was very disappointed. I realized it was not lack of effort from my side but the strategy that is failing me. I found out I have not spend enough time in quant, in which I can do better. Also I was skipping one entire RC with 4 questions to save time (because I’m a slow retainer of info, this was my initial strategy to manage time) for other verbal questions. I observed whenever I had sufficient time my RC hit rate was 11/13. I always thought I was weak with RCs. I was so wrong. I was applying same strategy over and over and expecting different result.
I stopped jumping around forums for new materials. I concentrated on basics of Quant(started spending more time on that) and worked more on inequality, and Geometry DS questions. And trust me guys; do not spend time on solving hard probability problems(I have seen this trend very often). This is not your AP maths class and you are working under stringent time constrains, so choose your battles (cliché, but true). The problems you face in GMAT are very basic statistics problems. The toughest part is Geometry and inequalities. I used MGMAT forum(GMAT prep folder) and GC forum for harder problems.
For verbal I started browsing the CR bible and solved Sentence correction problems only from GMAT prep question dumps. If I had doubts I used to find explanations only from reputed instructors (in my case I followed the MGMAT GMAT prep folder discussion). To my surprise I started recognizing the question pattern, my strength (the things I can improve), and my weakness (the things I can’t improve). I planned to go faster on SC and save time for CRs and RCs. From day one I saw everyone concentrating on SCs, so I too thought SC is the single most important thing. But things worked out differently for me. I was solving SC great without time pressure but under that ticking clock SC was a mess for me. I decided if I have to get a question wrong then let me do that faster.
After 15 days of preparation like this on 26th December I retook a GMAT prep test.
My Score jumped to whopping 710 from 600.
26-Dec-2012 – 710( Q 50, V35)(Remember by previous verbal score was V 25)
27-Dec-2012- 700 (Q 50, V34).
I got a confidence boost. I continued my preparation that way. On last week of preparation I just stayed relaxed, didn’t take any test, didn’t time myself while solving GMAT prep sample questions. Just tried to be ‘in touch’ rather than improving.

My G-Day experience:
Appointment was at 12:00 and I reached the center at 11:30. I had a mars bar, a snicker bar and water with me. The center had issue with power supply so the process was delayed. I tried to stay calm. Then the lady tried to take my picture. The machine was failing over and over. On the fourth attempt it did work. And I was escorted to the test room.
I started writing my essays and calmed down after all those hassles. Then started my quant and realized the question seemed tougher under test conditions than I have solved them before. Stupidly I spend 9 minutes on a simple calculation because I was feeling exhausted. I took a break of 30 second and started fresh calculation from scratch. Now I solved the problem in less than 40 seconds. But I have already wasted enough time and had to rush through (I had 18mins for last 12 questions, and if you are hitting constantly around 51, that time is not sufficient). Anyway I somehow finished and didn’t want to look back. ( I kept telling myself this is not the end, if things don’t go right I can try again)
I took my break, had my mars bar and water, and got back within 8 minutes. I was doing okay on time till 10/12 questions then I started slacking off. With RC and CR being showered on me, I was completely out of my time calculation. But I thought I’ll still try to solve the RC with patience and did so. The longest RC took 9 minutes of time and I had 12 questions to solve in 16 minutes with one short RC left. I did not panic. I spend 5minutes on the RC, solved the CRs and around 40 to 45 second on SCs.
After this was over I was asked sample testing of IR for 30 minutes. Once that was over I got my score. The test center gave me a print out of my unofficial and things finally got over.
Take away: 1) Build your own strategy. 2) Change things if they are not working for you 3) Work with right material. No one is perfect other than the GMAC
And I thank this thread of sharing experience. Whenever I felt down and exhausted with the prep I used to come here and read success stories. Thank you GMAT Club.
If you need any details let me know. I’ll be happy to help you.

_____________________
Ray

Last edited by ray5677 on 11 Jan 2012, 06:49, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 09 Jan 2012, 15:35
Thanks for your sharing your experience. I'm exactly in the same position you were few days back- Q47, V25. Could you please answer following questions?

ray5677 wrote:
For verbal I started browsing the CR bible and solved Sentence correction problems only from GMAT prep question dumps. If I had doubts I used to find explanations only from reputed instructors (in my case I followed the MGMAT GMAT prep folder discussion). To my surprise I started recognizing the question pattern, my strength (the things I can improve), and my weakness (the things I can’t improve).

How did you keep track of patterns? Can you share 'your' way of keeping track of patterns especially the ones representing GMATPrep questions?

ray5677 wrote:
I planned to go faster on SC and save time for CRs and RCs. From day one I saw everyone concentrating on SCs, so I too thought SC is the single most important thing. But things worked out differently for me. I was solving SC great without time pressure but under that ticking clock SC was a mess for me. I decided if I have to get a question wrong then let me do that faster.
Did you simply choose random answer to the question falling in your weakest area or make educated guess?
How to classify a problem solvable or unsolvable in 2 mins?
Did you follow any specific timing strategy for verbal?
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 09 Jan 2012, 20:22
ray5677,
Congratulations on fantastic score and strategies! I have one question though, you said you solved gmatprep problems but did you do those problems prior to taking your gmatprep exam? if so, dint your scores inflate? because you must have solved gmatprep problems already?
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2012, 01:15
rg1 wrote:
Thanks for your sharing your experience. I'm exactly in the same position you were few days back- Q47, V25. Could you please answer following questions?

ray5677 wrote:
For verbal I started browsing the CR bible and solved Sentence correction problems only from GMAT prep question dumps. If I had doubts I used to find explanations only from reputed instructors (in my case I followed the MGMAT GMAT prep folder discussion). To my surprise I started recognizing the question pattern, my strength (the things I can improve), and my weakness (the things I can’t improve).

How did you keep track of patterns? Can you share 'your' way of keeping track of patterns especially the ones representing GMATPrep questions?

For SC I used an excel sheet to track similar kind of problems. For example these are few common trends that I have seen in GMAT prep problems:
1. While- indicates verb to be simultaneous,i.e. tense must agree and mostly they are used in wrong construction(not always but mostly)
2. Adverbs are prohibited between a verb and 'to; ;i.e. ask him to 'quickly' go: WRONG
3.If the answer choices have ';', there is a chance wrong answer choice will be sentence fragment OR Run on sentence. And almost always the ';' sentences are correct.
4. 'in order to','having been' etc are mostly redundant. Anything ending with 'ing' is tricky.
Remember these are patterns in case you are running short on time but not rules. And the second thing, if you are trying to find patterns always follow GMAT prep questions. Never( I repeat never) try to find these patters with randomly collected or even reputed prep center questions.

For CR:
You need to get the "feel". Just go over OG and prep problems. And you will find that pattern. I did not practice any new CR problem in last 15 days, just browsed the CR bible the day before exam. CR is the easiest to find the pattern.
For RC:
I didn't do any practice. Also I never took notes. Even if you are a non native speaker, comprehension should be your first priority. My experience says taking notes hinders that comprehension.

ray5677 wrote:
I planned to go faster on SC and save time for CRs and RCs. From day one I saw everyone concentrating on SCs, so I too thought SC is the single most important thing. But things worked out differently for me. I was solving SC great without time pressure but under that ticking clock SC was a mess for me. I decided if I have to get a question wrong then let me do that faster.
Quote:
Did you simply choose random answer to the question falling in your weakest area or make educated guess?
How to classify a problem solvable or unsolvable in 2 mins?
Did you follow any specific timing strategy for verbal?

This is tricky and subjective to some extent. I'll share my strategy but I suggest to work on your own strategy for time management. I used:
SC 1 min to 1:30 min on a question.The average was around 1:05 min.
CR 1:30 to 2:15(Max 2:45) ,average was 2:10
RC 3-4 mins to read short RCs and 2:30 mins to solve the questions,(So max 6:30 for short RCs). For long RCs 8 to 9 mins.

There are 5 quarters.
End of 1st quarter 8 questions(9 if getting lot of SCs)[My first quarter was not as productive as other quarters, I used to take some time to get into groove for verbal]
End of 2nd quarter:16 questions. So get another 7 -9 questions done( This is the part you are supposed to get your first RC):
End of 3rd quarter :25 questions
End of 4th quarter :34 questions
Last quarter: Just 7 questions. I always tried to keep time for the last quarter so I don't have to rush into things and get my score screwed unfairly.

And yes, I have made a lot of educated guesses(based on patterns) in SC in real exam. I slacked off in 3rd quarter and a bit on 4th quarter.I was left with 12 questions in last 17-18mins(Including one RC).
When I felt I don't know the rule(or logic) or can't decide between two choices after a premeditated time allotment, I used to move on. My idea was: I don't want to get wrong the questions I definitely know because of time shortage. Although I mismanaged time on G-Day, this strategy worked wonder for me. Even when I had shortage of time, I didn't jump around the last RC. I knew I had a strong hold on that. So patiently solved that and cut time in solving SCs. For last few SCs, I have spent an average of 45 sec.
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Last edited by ray5677 on 10 Jan 2012, 02:14, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2012, 01:37
Simba2012 wrote:
ray5677,
Congratulations on fantastic score and strategies! I have one question though, you said you solved gmatprep problems but did you do those problems prior to taking your gmatprep exam? if so, dint your scores inflate? because you must have solved gmatprep problems already?

If you really look around there are ginormous numbers of GMAT prep problems. So I was not able to solve 10% of them in last 10 days.I had around 2-3 questions that were repeated in GMAT prep. And I spent the same time on those known questions as I would have in case they were unknown(didn't want a leveraged time cushion). And knowing couple of question out of 41 doesn't make much difference. So the score was not inflated.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2012, 05:54
Great debrief! Thanks for taking the time to do this.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2012, 14:44
Hi,

congratulations on your score.

Would you say that the Quant (PS and DS) on the actual exam is harder than those on the OG (red book) but easier than those on the MGMT?

Also, I guess the GMATPrep would be the most reflective of the actual?

Thanks,
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2012, 18:54
Thanks for sharing your strategies, Ray. For me, I was never able to control the pace in the test because I couldn't implement educated guessing strategy. Without sacrificing couple of questions, it's difficult to complete the section in time and i'm yet to learn this.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 10 Jan 2012, 23:23
Congrates for your score
Great motivating story
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2012, 03:37
smellbelly wrote:
Hi,

congratulations on your score.

Would you say that the Quant (PS and DS) on the actual exam is harder than those on the OG (red book) but easier than those on the MGMT?

Also, I guess the GMATPrep would be the most reflective of the actual?

Thanks,

Yes, they were way tougher than OG. They were exactly like GMAT prep problems. MGMAT problems are sheer cumbersome with lot of calculation involved. Where as GMAT quant is tricky. If you know the trick/method, no GMAT problem, no matter how hard it is, should take more than 3 minutes.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2012, 03:40
rg1 wrote:
Thanks for sharing your strategies, Ray. For me, I was never able to control the pace in the test because I couldn't implement educated guessing strategy. Without sacrificing couple of questions, it's difficult to complete the section in time and i'm yet to learn this.


I see your scores and I'm sorry that your efforts are not reflected on the score sheet. I would suggest a dramatic strategy change, doing something unthinkable. You can ask some help from fellow members or get a tutor. Someone else other than you can see what you are doing wrong.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2012, 05:22
Thanks Ray.

I hope my test day experience will be similar to yours. I can't seem to concentrate in RCs (not sure why).

I have however, improved a lot from my first mock (1.5 months ago) till now:

MGMT1: 410
MGMT2: 430
MGMT3: 550
MGMT4: 580
MGMT5: 580
MGMT6: 630
GMATPrep1: 640
GMATPrep2: 610 (not sure what happened - I think it was because I wrote the mock at 12AM)

Quant has never been an issue for me (46 - 50) but for some strange reason, my verbal can never pass the 33 mark!!

Advice from anyone would be appreciated.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2012, 14:24
Congratulations! I wish you get in the school you are interested.

Your story is lot motivating for me.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 11 Jan 2012, 19:13
Hi Ray, congrats on the massive improvement. Could you please reflect back on what "list of gmat prep problems " you used to prepare for SC. Could you possibly attach that file. Thankyou :D
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 12 Jan 2012, 01:11
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Hi Ray, congrats on the massive improvement. Could you please reflect back on what "list of gmat prep problems " you used to prepare for SC. Could you possibly attach that file. Thankyou :D


Here is the link, uploaded by whiplash: GPSC and GPOA. This is not exhaustive list.
If you need more go to MGMAT. Sort out the SC questions. I did not make any collection of questions since I was trying those prep problem in last few days before the test.

Hope this helps!
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 12 Jan 2012, 17:42
thank you so much :)
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2012, 00:50
Thanks a lot Ray - it was such an inspiring story and congratulations for this excellent feat.
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2012, 03:02
Quote:
"The GMAT prep software is the only standard comparable with real GMAT."


Hi Ray,

Congrats on your score!

From your quote above about the GMAT prep software, are you referring to the GMAT prep software by mba dot com?

I am also using the OG but since you reckon they are not GMAT standard, where can I get more GMAT standard material?

I am also using Kaplan by the way, any opinions on that?
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 16 Jan 2012, 10:55
tunrayo wrote:
Quote:
"The GMAT prep software is the only standard comparable with real GMAT."


Hi Ray,

Congrats on your score!

From your quote above about the GMAT prep software, are you referring to the GMAT prep software by mba dot com?

I am also using the OG but since you reckon they are not GMAT standard, where can I get more GMAT standard material?

I am also using Kaplan by the way, any opinions on that?


Yes GMAT prep is from mba.com.

And just to be clear only the quant is not og standard. the verbal is pretty much the same in og or gmat prep. for extra quant practice you can find plenty of materials in this forum. Let me know you have anymore questions
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Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days) [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2012, 01:19
Hi Ray,
Thats quite impressive. Congrats on your score. I have few qns, would be grateful ig you could answer them.
1. I am also using the GMATPrep Qns (the link you provided), my accuracy is 85% - 90% , But while taking the test the SC accuracy comes down to 60% - 65 %. From your post I could read that you also faced the same issue, Could you please tell me how did you overcome.
2. For CR also did you practiced the GMATPrep qns. ? If not than could you please explain your strategy on how did you approach the CR qns.

Also if you could please explain in detail your strategy for verbal: like was it ok to sacrifice some SC qns so that one gain time for the CR and RC . What was your approach.

Thanks, and waiting for your reply. Thats really a great improvement.
Re: From 600(even after 3 months of hard work)to 720(in 20 days)   [#permalink] 18 Jan 2012, 01:19
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Got 620 after 3.5 months hard revision. Very :-( GMAT? 10 18 Jan 2007, 16:54
After u2lovergirl lay down, having finished a hard day's u2lover 20 22 Jul 2006, 18:39
After 3 months' studying, taking the GMAT in 2 days... if lackeym77 8 05 Jun 2006, 17:48
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